Sunday November 18, 2018
Home India ‘Times ...

‘Times have changed, so have forms of protest’

0
//
Prabir Roy, JU Professor at the rally
Republish
Reprint

By Roshni Chakrabarty and Arnab Mitra

Kolkata: Twenty three organisations of the West Bengal cultural forum took part in the first protest on intolerance organized in Kolkata, on November 7, in front of the Academy of Fine Arts, also called the Ranu Chhaya Mancha.

Organisations such as the West Bengal Ganatantric Lekhak Shilpi Shongo, Bharatiya Gonoshonskriti Shongo, and eminent personalities including advocate Bharati Mutsuddi, artist Samir Aich, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Prabir Roy, and noted poet Mandakranta Sen took part in the protest rally.

NewsGram asked Samir Aich on his opinion regarding Shah Rukh Khan being termed a national threat. He said that those calling the Bollywood star a terrorist were themselves so. He commended the move undertaken by so many writers and scholars all over India in returning their awards as a protest against the rising intolerance in the country.

“A person is entitled to his own language and form for the protest. If one believes that returning his or her award is the way to protest, then the person has every right to do so! Why is this being questioned in the first place? India is walking towards a grave direction. This is nothing less than what the country saw in 1984,” said Aich.

Prabir Roy, Bengali professor from Jadavpur University, said that the issue was being taken in to a different direction by citing ‘international conspiracy’ and ‘foreign hands’. “This slant that is being given to the intolerant situation is diverting the common people and distracting us from the real issue. Certain groups, certain sections of the society are endorsing an autocratic regime. The way religion is being promoted right now has to stop. Otherwise, the demise of this nation is imminent.”

“I have never seen such a thing in my entire political career,” said former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee. “I am afraid Kolkata might go back to the dark times of the 1945-46 riots.”

“India is a secular country and people of different communities have lived together here for years, even long before the British came to India,” said advocate Bharati Mutsuddi to NewsGram. “In this aspect, India is different from most other countries in the world. The Hindutva ideals being promoted by BJP and RSS which project the country as a Hindu nation, where people are being killed for eating beef, is dangerous to India’s basic essence and might even lead us to civil war.”

On being asked why no such initiative was taken during the dire situation of the 1984 Sikh riots or the Babri Masjid issue, she said that several protests were carried out during the time as well. “A bandh was even called by the then ruling Left front government in Bengal as a protest against the riots embroiling the nation. But the times have changed now, and so has the form of protest,” said the advocate citing the growing awareness of the population due to the advent of social media.

Mutsuddi also spoke out against the political colour given to these protests by the media. “Every protestor is not affiliated to a political party just because they are speaking against an issue and carrying out a protest. The media has taken it on themselves to label protests as a Congress Movement or a BJP one. This is what they have always done!”

She further elaborated that individuals such as historian Irfan Habib and writer Arundhati Roy were not involved in any party activities, but the fact that they were returning their awards to protest against the intolerance issue should show what condition our country was in.

“People need to realise that everyone is entitled to a political thought process, even though they are not necessarily affiliated to any political party,” added Mudshuddi.

Bharati Mudshuddi (centre) with others at the rally
Advocate Bharati Mutsuddi (centre) with others at the rally

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Summary Trials Have No Place In Afghan Laws: Behrooz Jahanya

Human rights organizations also criticized the Afghan government

0
Relatives of Afghan woman, 27-year-old Farkhunda, who was beaten to death by a mob, attend a hearing at a court in Kabul on May 6, 2015. Four Afghan men were sentenced to death for the savage lynching of a woman falsely accused of blasphemy, a landmark judgment in a nation where female victims often have little legal recourse.
Relatives of Afghan woman, 27-year-old Farkhunda, who was beaten to death by a mob, attend a hearing at a court in Kabul on May 6, 2015. Four Afghan men were sentenced to death for the savage lynching of a woman falsely accused of blasphemy, a landmark judgment in a nation where female victims often have little legal recourse. VOA

Human rights organizations have voiced “grave concerns” over the rise in summary court convictions in Afghanistan after a video of one such trial was posted on social media last week.

In the video, which was filmed outside the capital, Kabul, a group of four men and a woman were convicted of adultery by men who called themselves “mujahidin,” a title the Taliban always uses to identify its fighters.

The men in the video, who appeared to have been beaten up, confessed to having been involved in the act of adultery, an offense that carries severe punishments under both Afghan and Islamic Sharia law, if proved.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said summary court convictions are grave sources of concern, “especially when it happens in areas under the control of the Afghan government.”

Afghanistan March 2009
Afghanistan March 2009, Flickr

“Lashing, beheading, killing and stoning are among the verdicts of the summary court trials conducted in Afghanistan,” Bilal Sidiqi, Afghan AIHRC spokesperson, told VOA.

During the past three months, AIHRC has recorded at least three cases of summary court convictions, while the number of such incidents reached eight last year.

Hinder justice

United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the conduct of such trials and criticized what it called “traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms.”

Responding to a VOA query, UNAMA stated: “The handling of criminal cases outside Afghanistan’s court system can hinder justice and the realization of human rights. Afghanistan’s laws and penal code do not include any legal provision allowing for the mediation of criminal cases. Traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms should not be used in criminal cases to replace the existing legal framework or court adjudication processes of the government of Afghanistan.”

Human rights organizations also criticized the Afghan government for failing to prosecute the perpetrators.

Poster-Stop terorrism
Poster-Stop terorrism, Pixabay

“We call on the Afghan government to take serious measures to prevent such inhumane incidents,” Siddiqi said.

The Afghan government is striving to expand its control all over the country’s territories so everyone has access to the justice system, the Afghan presidential palace told VOA.

“The acts [summary trials] carried out by the Taliban and other terrorist groups against the people are criminal offenses,” Afghan presidential spokesperson Shah Hussain Murtazawi told VOA.

Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are being widely accused of conducting summary trials in the country.

Also read:Taliban Ghani peace offer

“We have recorded a number of summary convictions in restive areas and frequently the areas under Taliban control. Efforts were made to investigate and prosecute those who conduct summary trials,” Najib Danish, spokesperson for the Afghan interior minister, told VOA.

Against the law

Summary court convictions by the Taliban and other radical groups contradict the Afghan constitution and Islamic law, said Behrooz Jahanyar, a Kabul-based lawyer.

“What the Taliban is doing is absolutely against the Islamic law. Summary trials have no place in Afghan laws, either. No one can be convicted or punished without going through all court proceedings and access to appeal in a higher court,” Jahanyar told VOA.

Members of civil society organizations in Afghanistan allege that the issue of summary trials is more severe than it appears to be.

“Summary trials are conducted more in remote and hard-to-reach areas, where fear of retaliation prevents people from reporting such incidents,” Kabul-based civil activist Abdul Wodood Pedram, told VOA.

Although the authenticity of the videos posted on social media cannot be confirmed, disturbing footage is being posted periodically by militant groups in Afghanistan of women being stoned and beaten with batons, men being slashed, and Afghan soldiers captured by militants being shot to death. (VOA)